Mental Grooves

One of the difficulties in incorporating the treadmill desk into my life is creating new associations between my body and mind. Up to now, in this stage of my work life, I have created mental associations, grooves in the paths of my neurons, if you will, that bring together sitting at a computer and a certain type of thinking. Along side that are other things: having a cup of coffee in the morning, sitting in a particular chair, seeing a particular view out a particular window. (keyword: sitting)

As I stand here now, writing this blog and walking at 0.7 miles per hour, I am keenly aware of the fact that this standing position, walking movement, and view of the wall don’t fit into those grooves.

As I walk, various tasks I have to do flit through my mind: finalize my course syllabus; set up the course wiki; write a recommendation letter, finish edits on a paper I’m reviewing. Each time they do, I automatically anticipate sitting down at my desk to genuinely focus on them.

I literally am having trouble  envisioning myself coming up with the words, tables, and pages I need while standing. My brain feels as though it’s shying away from focusing on those things until my body is in that familiar seat in front of those familiar screens.

I have this problem when I travel, as well. I have trouble getting my regular  work done in a strange room at a strange desk. I’ve managed before, but only rarely, and only with certain kinds of tasks, like answering emails that need simple replies, but not the ones that require some real thinking.

Sometimes I can use a new space to shift myself into a totally different work mode as a sort of hiatus, like shifting into paper-writing mode that suspends me from all the other stuff that demands my attention. But it always feels temporary, and even then, I’m sitting…

My plan to overcome this is to do this blogging while walking, and to make a promise to myself that I’ll start every morning answering emails and doing my less complicated kind of preparing for the day work while walking for a little while.

So far, I’m really only able to walk when I’m taking a break. But that’s okay! I take enough FB, simple email, and TV breaks right now to be putting in some time, and I’m hoping this will help me continue to adjust before the semester starts. (90 minutes so far today!)

I figure I’ll make myself some new grooves. But it’s going to take time.


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